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THE WHITE TOWER

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  THE TOWER OF LONDON
DESCRIPTION + /

The White Tower is the Norman keep regarded as the original structure of the Tower of London complex. Before its construction its site in the 2nd century was occupied by two successive timber-framed buildings, a large masonry building and the Roman city wall. Parts of the wall were reused in the construction of the Norman fortress. Building began c.1077 on the orders of William the Conqueror with work supervised by Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester and was completed by 1100. In 1190 an attempt was made to create a moat by the digging of a large ditch around it and encouraging the Thames to flow into it. The Tower stands in the Inner Ward and is of rectangular plan measuring 35m by 29m excluding the apse and turrets and rises on the south to a height of 27m to its battlements. It is made of Kentish ragstone with some Septana, mud stone from the Thames. It originally comprised 2 storeys and basement - the upper floor being the grand residential suite of hall, chamber and Chapel of St John. In the early 17th century this became 3 storeys with basement and 5 storey angle turrets. In 1240 it was whitewashed giving it the name it still retains. Subsequent alterations, improvements and re-use have altered its appearance greatly including the replacement of some of the original stone to Portland stone in the 17th century. The Chapel of St John is of an aisled plan with 13 bays and contains a series of Anglo-Norman capitals. The Chapel was restored in 1864-6 when the windows were replaced with 18th century stained glass from Strawberry Hill. Refurbishment and cleaning programmes in the 1960s and 1970s to the White Tower have provided much archaeological and historical information. The Tower remains the central impressive structure around which the rest of the large complex has developed.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the Historic England website.